After 35 years, still one of the best

Bob Mercer put it well: “A newswoman like no other.” That was the headline of his blog post today in which I learned Tena Haraldson is leaving her position as the Associated Press bureau chief for the Dakotas and Nebraska. Tena probably is a 35-year veteran of AP. I’m proud to say I’ve known her longer than that.

We went to journalism school together (in different graduating classes), worked on the SDSU Collegian together and covered the state Capitol together (for competing wire services). We go back to the days when you wrote news stories on typewriters and there were teletypes pounding away in the news or press room. Regardless of whether we were cooperating or competing, Tena always was (and still is) the epitome of class and professionalism. Her intelligence, commitment and experience gave readers greater insight into the issues she covered and undoubtedly helped train dozens of younger reporters.

Tena treats everyone with respect while still striving for the goal of good journalists — to inform and educate the public in a fair and objective way about events that affect our lives. It’s a trait that’s disappearing in our 24/7 digital news world. Sadly, she’s not the only good reporter I know who’s encountered the impact digital and social media have had on traditional media organizations and the ensuing “restructuring.” Moreover, each one who comes to mind is one I held in high regard.

How much do I admire and respect Tena and her talents? Even though it’s probably been a couple years since we’ve talked to or seen each other, upon reading she was leaving I immediately called her to express my surprise and regret. It’s not hyperbole when I say Tena is one of the best newswomen journalists I’ve had the pleasure to know. It was not only a pleasure to work with her, I have no doubt she made those of us who had that chance better reporters and better people. Hopefully, whatever comes next for her will still bring her abilities to bear for the public.

One of the great pressures we’re facing in journalism now is it’s a lot cheaper to hire thumb suckers and pundits and have talk shows on the air than actually have bureaus and reporters.

Walter Isaacson, Bill Moyers Reports, April 25, 2007

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